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Everything posted by Andrew

  1. Hey all: I thought it might be worthwhile to do an analogous thread to 'What We're Watching' in the Film section - i.e., books that we found worthwhile, but we're not sure they merit an entire thread. Anyway, here's a book that I've found enlightening recently: Epileptic, by David B. - this is a French autobio-graphic novel, telling the story of David's childhood/adolescent/early adulthood years in the shadow of an older brother with intractable seizures. To say the least, his parents were not traditionally minded, so the family visited macrobiotic communes, acupuncturists, magnetists, among others, in seeking a cure. As this occurs, David feels increasingly angered by his brother's sickness, as he realizes he is powerless to offer any meaningful aid. The artwork on the pages is quite distinctive, as David often depicts a heavy dose of spiritual forces that are involved in these trials for a cure - the darkness on display on certain pages is almost overwhelming at times, yet I found this to be a worthwhile window into this family's suffering.
  2. I know Gray's earlier film The Immigrant got lotsa love around here, but I think this is even better:
  3. No mention anywhere of Saul Williams' "Martyr Loser King"? That album is blowing my mind.
  4. I read the rules in the opening post, but I thought the precedent was no movies from the previous calendar year, to avoid overenthusing about recent releases.
  5. Sigh...more exploding monuments, holding separating objects together with webs, silly antagonism between superheroes...been there, done that too many times now. I don't know that I'll even see this one as a rental.
  6. I still enjoy thoughtful film criticism, partly because I want to read what other folks have to say and also as a way to hone my analytic and writing skills. Like Justin, with Ebert's passing I don't have a favorite popular film critic, but I'll sift through RT's top critics and read what interests me. (I also just subscribed to Film Comment, figuring it was time to do so, instead of paging through it at the local bookshop every couple of months.) It's interesting to see the comments here about film ratings, too. If I had to guess, most of my reviews probably fall into the 3.5 to 4 star range, for a couple of reasons: 1) I'm very selective about what I view on the big screen and write about anymore (I like for my weekly written review to be about a film that I really give a damn about); and 2) like Ebert in his last several years, I'd rather err on the side of generosity and praise what is praiseworthy. And yeah, I think the "end of criticism" is a load of hoohah, just like the "end of ---" shtick almost always is.
  7. Six months out, I don't recall a lot of specifics, but I liked Frantz quite a bit when I saw it at TIFF last year.
  8. Fair enough, y'all. We've got a great community thing going on here that long ago earned my lasting trust and respect, so I'll participate in a (no pun intended) good faith manner.
  9. This is kind of what I was afraid of, and why I voted for "coming of age." I understand that the site and list is geared mostly to Christian readers and viewers, so no hard feelings on my part, but as a non-believer I'll be sitting this one out.
  10. My social phobia maybe gives me a way to connect to Chiron, but I find his desire to melt silently into the background wherever he goes entirely plausible and (ack, I hate this word) relatable.
  11. Aww, he must be so proud to be writing for a publication that opposed the Civil Rights Movement and supported apartheid.
  12. Agreed - Chris and Rod were delightful together.
  13. I've heard it's a good idea to skip the trailers on this one. Horror is not my favorite genre, not by far, but I thought this was excellent. It has some very good twists, and the social commentary is quite smart and cutting. I seem to like one horror film per year on average, so this will be it, I guess (last year, it was The Witch). Here's my review:
  14. I don't tout my work here as often as I used to, but this is the best new film I've seen in almost a year; a perfect meshing of screenwriting, visual, musical, editing, intellectual and emotional content. My full review:
  15. Thanks! I esteemed this movie (and Baldwin's writing) so highly that I went out and bought the screenplay yesterday, something I only do a couple of times a year.
  16. Yeah, I'm bummed out that there'll be a second season, since the first one ended perfectly. No doubt The Young Pope will offend purists, but I thought it managed a decent tightrope walk between faith and skepticism. Based on my recent read of God's Bankers, the behind the scenes view of the Vatican felt mostly plausible here. And The Young Pope possesses the beauty, jarring oddness, and emotional power that Sorrentino has captured in his two most recent films. In terms of performances, Jude Law delivers a superb performance that believably covers the full range of human emotion; and the supporting roles are managed excellently, too. This is great TV.
  17. Interesting point and question. It's been a while since I've read up on Zen Buddhism, so I'm digging deep into my far-from-perfect memory banks on this. Off the top of my head, I'm not convinced that Ozu's films draw all that heavily from Zen. On the other hand, his films exemplify the Japanese concept of mono no aware, a gentle sadness at the transience of all things. Since as I understand it, Buddhism idealizes lack of attachment, I'd consider this concept imperfectly Buddhist at best. I could be wrong, though. (Parenthetically, a couple of films depicting Buddhist ritual or artistry popped into my head. Late Spring - Ozu again - has a climactic scene occur at a Noh performance, the several hundred year old dramatic form heavily influenced by Zen. Daibyonin - a hard to track down film by Juzo Itami, of Tampopo fame - climaxes with a orchestrated performance of a Buddhist sutra. Stunning stuff.) Actually, I think Kurosawa's films draw more upon Zen. The Zen concept of satori, or sudden shocking enlightenment, shows up repeatedly, from his first film and famously including the 'happy birthday' scene in Ikiru. Zen and its ideals of the noble swordsman are all over Seven Samurai. In a sense, lots of Kurosawa's films are coming of age tales in a Buddhist-inflected culture, though the maturing folks are typically young adults, as in the young judo artist gaining enlightenment at the monastery in Sanshiro Sugata or the young doctor of Red Beard. And good call on Kim Ki-Duk's film; I'd forgotten all about it, since I haven't seen it in perhaps a decade. But yeah, that may be the best film example in answer to Jeffrey's original question.
  18. Having watched all of Kurosawa's films (most, thrice or more) and many Ozu films, I can only think of one that deals with this specific topic even peripherally. Rhapsody in August, a 1991 film by Kurosawa, has a poignant scene where a grandmother and her 4 grandkids participate in a Buddhist ceremony of remembrance for the dead of Nagasaki. My impression is that Ghibli films deal far more with Shinto ideas and imagery, rather than Buddhist, though Pom Poko in particular melds the two. Little to nothing about kids and Buddhism in that film, though.
  19. Oops! I scanned Park's film list at Rotten Tomatoes and missed the director/producer distinction. I should've checked at imdb instead.
  20. I guess this good old Tennessee boy just isn't sophisticated enough to appreciate the "meta-critique of the male gaze" in watching a couple of skinny nubile ladies scissoring. It looked an awful lot like soft core pornography with a thin ice crust of rationalization scattered on the top. I guess I just need to steer clear of films by Chan-wook Park for a while, since I pretty much hated Snowpiercer and Oldboy, but I was lured in by all of the praise his newest film has received (including Best Foreign Language Film from the critics' association I belong to). This is somewhat analogous to my recent reaction to Elle, which struck me as superficially feminist while turning out to be rather misogynistic, to the point of including a "she really wanted it" rape narrative.
  21. In my backstory reading, evidently the Inquisitor was an openly gay man, one of the few such leaders in the Tokugawa Era. Nonetheless, he struck me as more than a bit stereotyped as well.